Great pre-prep schools are popping up across the UK - from Hampshire to Scotland, Brighton to London and Oxford to Devon, reveals Tessa Waugh.

In this difficult economic environment, you might expect parents to delay school fees for as long as possible, but The Good Schools Guide reports: ‘More and more prep schools have started pre-preps over the years, partly as a way of drawing in parents early on.’

During the past five years, The Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS) has invited eight standalone pre-preps to join the organisation and its ranks have been swelled by more than 40 UK prep schools that incorporate a pre-prep. Another eight members have extended their age range to include 3-7 year olds.

What are the benefits of investing in your child’s education this early? One pre-prep head compares education to building a house, explaining: ‘The foundations have to be very strong to support all the future learning.’ Likewise, a mother of three adds: ‘Pre-prep is where children learn to love learning.’

At the best of these schools an imaginative curriculum, great facilities and specialist teachers are a given-at a fraction of the price of prep or public school-but plenty offer much more besides.

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